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Essential tips for business networking

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We recently brought you our video with essential tips for those starting out in business for the first time. We have also covered tips for start-ups and small businesses on how to secure funding and how to pitch to would-be investors.

The fourth in our series of ‘Essential business tips’ covers networking and how to get maximum value from events – before, during and afterwards.

Whether you’re a startup or run a small business there may be useful advice on networking that you haven't considered.

Here are four tips to help you make the most of your precious time and resources:

Essentials networking, tip 1, target events that match your business goals

Tip 1: Target events that match your business goals

Are you looking for a partner, suppliers, an investor, a mentor, or new customers?

Look for events that provide opportunities to meet people who can help you achieve your goals.

Joyeeta Das, CEO of space technology company Gyana Ltd, has this advice on identifying the right events and the right people to meet:

You have to know who has the same vision, to try to align with them.

Essentials networking tip 2, make connections before the event

Tip 2: Make connections before the event

Organisers try to create a pre-event ‘buzz’. Be sure to take part in the conversations that create that sense of excitement and anticipation.

Get a list of attendees and contact those you are interested in to request a quick chat. This makes key people aware of you and saves time on introductions on the day.

Matthew Stafford, co-founder of the 9others community of entrepreneurs, offers a reminder that personal relationships can be very important:

In this connection economy, it’s especially important to create and maintain ‘real’ relationships with people.

 Essentials networking, tip 3, maximise the networking opportunity during the event

Tip 3: Make the most of networking opportunities during the event

Always listen first when you meet someone but have a well-rehearsed ‘elevator pitch’ ready for when they ask you to tell them about your business.

Make yourself visible to attendees and influencers by using event hashtags on your smart phone and other social media assets.

Andrew Kent, senior innovation adviser at Enterprise Europe Network, stresses the importance of doing your homework beforehand:

Preparation for networking events is crucial to ensure you maximise your time and opportunities.

Essentials networking tip 4, follow up with your new contacts

Tip 4: Follow up with your new contacts

Maintain momentum with the people you have met – with an email or a quick phone call.

Discuss the event and your participation through social media, blogs and forums. This will increase your visibility and keep you on your contacts’ radar.

Evaluate the event’s success against the goals you set and then begin searching and planning for your next event.

Alex Mauser, operations and development manager at Enterprise Europe Network, has this advice for those looking to broaden your horizons:

Choose international events to explore target markets, expand your networks, and find out the latest developments in your sector.

Watch more essential funding tips.

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